Traveling Abroad? Don't Leave Home Without Making Financial Preparations

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Financial Preparation for Traveling Internationally

Planning a trip abroad? If so, have you given much thought to how you are going to pay for your expenses in a foreign country? And do you know enough to protect yourself from thieves who target travelers? FDIC Consumer News offers these suggestions for preparing yourself and your finances.

Don't carry much cash.

Have a small amount for emergencies, tipping and transportation. Remember, the more money you have in your wallet, the more you will lose if it is stolen. And lost or stolen cash can't be replaced.

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Take a couple of credit cards.

Most of the time, credit cards are easy to use and widely accepted in other countries. They can be easily replaced if lost or stolen, and U.S. law limits your maximum liability for unauthorized use to $50 per card. But before you leave, check with your card issuer to find out about the likely fees for foreign transactions (typically in the range of one to three percent but sometimes more, so shop around) and any possible restrictions you may face abroad. Also remember that some foreign countries allow stores to impose an extra charge for credit card purchases.

Taking more than one credit card makes sense just in case one is lost or otherwise can't be used, such as if a company "blocks" part of your credit line to cover expected costs when you rent a car or check into a hotel, thus making that amount of credit unavailable to you. Also, it's a good idea to contact your card issuers before you go and let them know where and when you will be traveling. That way charges abroad won't be denied based on incorrect assumptions that your card has been stolen.

Consider "prepaid debit cards" and traveler's checks as replacements for cash.

A prepaid debit card allows you to load a specific amount of money on the card for purchases and cash withdrawals from ATMs (automated teller machines). You should also be able to add more value to the card during your stay, perhaps by making the necessary arrangements online or by phone, but it can take anywhere from a day to a week for the funds to become available. If the card is used by a thief, the most you can be held responsible for is the value on the card

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